music marketing midwest

New On Pitch Team Member: Andy Cusack

Hey everybody. I’m Andy Cusack, and as of today, I’m joining forces with the immovable object that is On Pitch! I was most recently a senior art director at The Integer Group, where I worked with such clients as Pella Windows & Doors, Shell, and Michelin (among many others) — creating print and web based designs and contributing to the strategic execution of said design.

Before that, I was a graphic designer for Principal Global Investors (a division of The Principal Financial Group) within its in-house marketing team. I got really good at creating fact sheets there.

But I don’t merely make things look pretty. I’m passionate about music and the music scene in Des Moines. I once maintained a music blog for Juice — from the site’s launch in 2005 until mid 2008.

You may have stumbled across a music podcast/blog called We Hate Music. This cool guy Ryan Peterson and I started and ran it together for two years beginning in 2010. One dark day, some punk kid hacker wiped out our site, and we unfortunately were never able to get it back up and running. We didn’t fret about it too much, though, because we knew there were some truly excellent local outlets like Band Bombshell, DSMVibe, des noise, the trusty Joe Lawler Juice music blog (and many, many others) that were more than capable of carrying the torch.

I was fortunate enough to get the opportunity to assist some DMMC folks in booking for 80/35 from its first year on, and that is still something I LOVE doing and look forward to every year. I mean … 80/35 is easily the best couple days/nights in Des Moines, amiright?

I even got to partner with Jill Haverkamp (of On Pitch fame) to plan, book, promote and run the inaugural mini music fest Shoot The Chutes this past August.

Other than that, I play (poorly) or have played in a few local bands you’ve never heard of. It’s always extremely invigorating to perform on stage in front of an audience — especially when you get to share that stage with other awesome local (or touring!) bands. I’m not ashamed to say that I heart The Vaudeville Mews.

Like seemingly half of Des Moines, I grew up in the Chicago area. At least I’m being honest with you with my inclusion of the word, “area.” I’m certainly from closer to the city than Naperville … but I couldn’t in good conscience tell you that I’m, “from Chicago.” But even in my travels and in the two years of my detour to Denver — okay, the Denver area — I have never put ketchup on a hot dog.

So how did I get from Chicago (area) to Denver (area) to (actual) Des Moines? I went to Drake University, that’s how. I studied graphic design (with a marketing minor!) there, and I’ve stuck around ever since. I kind of like it here, Des Moines.

Here is a sneak peek at the scribbles from my first creative contributions on my first day “at the office”:

Looking forward to making great things happen with On Pitch!

I’m on the Internet!
Twitter (Fair warning: I mostly tweet about baseball and football)
Poorly maintained blog

Music Blogging – Des Moines Style

Music fans across Des Moines are taking notice of our burgeoning music community. Many of them are helping push our scene to the next level by blogging about it.

We absolutely love how many bloggers in Des Moines are covering music. We encourage all of you to follow and support these blogs and thank them for chronicling what’s happening here in Iowa’s capital city.

DSM Band Bombshell

Iowa Music Buzz

Iowaves Music Blog


Greater Des Moines Music Coalition

Des Moines is NOT Boring

Central Iowa Music Scene Examiner

The Lonely Note

des noise


Joe’s Music Blog (Metromix)

Did we miss one? Let us know by commenting below!

Meet the On Pitch Summer Intern: Mary-Kate Burkert

Hello! My name is Mary-Kate Burkert, and I am the newest member of the On Pitch team. I am a Des Moines native currently attending Iowa State University and working towards a journalism and mass communication major with an emphasis in public relations and an event management minor. I am eager to use my experiences and knowledge to increase musical awareness in the 515 area.

My passion for the PR field really took off my freshman year of college and has amplified ever since. I dove into both on and off-campus leadership roles pertaining to my academic interests. I have thoroughly enjoyed being on Dance Marathon’s public relations committee and being PR executive chair for both Blood Drive 2012 and Homecoming Central. I have gained experience working solo and with a team as a student ambassador for the College of Liberal Arts and Sciences and as a news reporter for the Iowa State Daily. I give credit to the Greek Relations Executive Council for strengthening my writing abilities with our monthly publication of Letters-a magazine, intended to update the entire Greek community at Iowa State.

Looking to the future, I hope my experiences this summer with On Pitch will enhance my confidence in carrying out any and all public relations, marketing and social media assignments necessary to guarantee success. I am looking forward to benefitting the city I hold closest to my heart and am excited to learn about the ever-evolving music scene. Soaking up wisdom from Jill and Hillary will definitely make for a fun-filled and educational summer!

Feel free to connect with me on social media (I love meeting new people):

Twitter: @marykateburkert
Facebook: mary-kate burkert

Landing A Music Panel at South by Southwest

Last week I moderated a panel called Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country at the SXSW Music and Media Conference in Austin, Texas. Jill and I submitted the idea for the panel last June, and after months of planning and eagerly awaiting the arrival of the big day, we were excited to finally come together with our rock star lineup of speakers to conduct the panel.

We’re happy to report that the panel was a huge success. Attendance was great, with about 70 people joining us for the discussion. According to the poll we took during the panel, our audience was about 50/50 musicians and music professionals.

We’d like to thank everyone who took time out of their busy schedules to attend the panel, including our panelists: Sean Moeller, Scott Booker, Shawn Crahan, and Amedeo Rossi, who provided invaluable advice and insight on the topic of how to launch a music career in any region.

From Sean Moeller’s desire to record and write about music on his own terms, which has ultimately led to a revolutionization of online music through Daytrotter, to Slipknot founding member Shawn Crahan’s innate need to unleash his creativity since he was a young child, there were a few consistent themes throughout the panel. All of our panelists exuded innovation, fearlessness and motivation – they have truly carved their own paths while creating their own unique and successful music careers right here in the Midwest.

All of the panelists also have a higher purpose and vision of creating a better tomorrow for the music industry. From Amedeo Rossi’s vision to foster a cultural landscape that encourages up-and-coming artists to stick around in Iowa through the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition, to Scott Booker’s innovative career path leading him to cultivate and educate future generations about every aspect of the music industry at ACM@UCO in Oklahoma City, the speakers have not only impacted the music scene and industry in their communities, but they’ve influenced movements that will ultimately impact the music industry as a whole.

Their stories and advice were inspiring, uncut and raw – the kind of stuff that SXSW is made of.

Listen to a podcast of  “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” here.

Check more photos from the panel on our Facebook Page and some recent press coverage below.

Silicon Prairie News PrairieCast
Radio Iowa
Iowa State Daily

On Pitch: One Year Later

Exactly one year ago we officially launched On Pitch at SXSW Music. It’s been quite a year for us. We’ve been busy working on a variety of projects including managing publicity campaigns, coordinating event sponsorships, collaborating on website launches, scheduling advertising buys, executing online marketing pushes, and the list goes on.

Over the past year, we have worked on projects for the following clients:

In June we submitted to host a panel at SXSW, which ended up getting accepted. Hillary moderated Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country yesterday alongside panelists: Shawn Crahan (Slipknot), Sean Moeller (Daytrotter), Amedeo Rossi (Des Moines Music Coalition), and Scott Booker (Hellfire Ent./The Flaming Lips manager). Listen to Radio Iowa’s feature on the panel here.

As you know, On Pitch has been a passion project for Hillary and I outside our full-time positions at Lava Row and Olde Main Brewing Co. This month I am excited to announce that I’ll be transitioning into a full-time role with On Pitch. Moving forward, we hope to continue to grow our music and entertainment client base locally, while  expanding to take on more projects and work with clients regionally. Thanks to all of you for your continued support. Be sure to follow our blog, Twitter, and Facebook for future updates.

Meet the speakers participating in our SXSW panel

Tomorrow we host Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country at the SXSW Music Conference in Austin, Texas. We are honored to feature such an accomplished group of professionals with successful music careers in “flyover country.”

From a Grammy-award winning musician that maintains his home base in Des Moines, an entrepreneur that carved his own path opening a music venue and launching a major summer music festival, a record store clerk turned manager for major recording artists that cultivates his music community, and a blogger whose website not only revolutionized his city, but the entire indie music scene.

Please take a moment to get to know the Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country speakers.

Scott Booker

Scott Booker started as a clerk at Sound Warehouse in Midwest City, Oklahoma. After enrolling at the University of Central Oklahoma, Scott simultaneously managed Rainbow Records. After Scott met The Flaming Lips in 1990 he quickly became – and still is – their manager. In 2001 Scott formed Hellfire Enterprises with his wife Jennifer, helping get the word out about bands like Sigur Ros, Devendra Banhart and El-P. Currently CEO at the Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO, Scott’s focus is helping cultivate and educate future generations about every aspect of the music industry.

Find Scott on Twitter: @scottdbooker

Sean Moeller

Before revolutionizing online music, Iowa-native Sean Moeller was working full time as a sports and entertainment writer for the Quad-City Times and freelancing for various music magazines across the country. While out on a run one morning, Sean came up with the idea of having touring bands drop by a studio in Rock Island, Illinois, and play an impromptu set on borrowed instruments. Now considered one of the most popular indie music blogs on the internet, Daytrotter allows for free music discovery and is home to a host of creative music, writing, and artwork.

Find Sean on Twitter:

Shawn Crahan

Shawn “Clown” Crahan is one of the founding members of Des Moines-based metal icons Slipknot. His resume includes seven Grammy nominations and one win, 14 million albums sold world-wide, and tours spanning the globe. Shawn also performs with Dirty Little Rabbits and is currently preparing for the release of the debut album from his latest Group The Black Dots of Death. He continues to maintain his roots in his hometown of Des Moines, Iowa.

Follow Shawn on Twitter: @MShawnCrahan

Amedeo Rossi

Iowa native Amedeo Rossi’s goal is to foster a cultural landscape that encourages up-and-coming artists to stick around. After years of corporate human resources, Rossi shifted his focus to Des Moines’ budding arts and entertainment scene and collaborated to open indie music venue Vaudeville Mews in 2004. Rossi helped found the Greater Des Moines Music Coalition and has led the development of the annual 80/35 Music Festival.

Follow Amedeo on Twitter: @amedeo10

Panel Details
Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country
Thursday, March 17
Room 11AB

If you can’t attend, watch for updates on Twitter: @OnPitch.

Photo Credits: Scott Booker via ACM@UCO. Shawn Crahan via Brian Leli.

In case you missed it, our feature in the Business Record

Did you catch the article about On Pitch in the Business Record earlier this year? In case you missed it, you can read the feature here. A special thanks to Todd Razor for sharing our story!

Successful online music marketing case studies

Connecting with fans is imperative in today’s music industry. It’s that connection that can give them a reason to buy and support your music. Utilizing social media and having a strong online presence makes connecting with fans much more achievable. Below are some good case studies of bands that found success through an online campaign. I encourage musicians to review these examples and pay attention to the elements that made them successful. Then think about how to implement those strategies into your own marketing plans.

  • Arcade Fire – Interactive Music Video Using Google Street View
  • Watch the video

    Arcade Fire utilized HTML5 to create an interactive music video for “We Used to Wait.” Users are prompted to enter the address of their childhood home at the start of the video. While watching the video, scenes from your old neighborhood are pulled in using Google street view.  The elements of new technology, interactivity, nostalgia, experimentation, and personalization all aided in making this video a huge hit. Think about those factors for your next campaign.

  • Jason Parker – Name Your Price Using Bandcamp
    You may recall this example from our previous blog post: Pay What You Want Model: Does it Work? Jason Parker is a Seattle-based jazz musician that has found a lot of success utilizing Bandcamp, a site for bands to sell their music and merch. After deciding to allow fans to name their own price for his music, revenue increased from $15/month to $300/month. Pay attention to what Jason is doing on his social networks. He knows how to connect with fans and give them a reason to buy. He says the majority of his sales from Bandcamp are directed from Twitter, “I see a direct correlation between how much I converse on Twitter and how many downloads I sell. It’s a no-brainer.” Read more about Jason Parker and how he utilizes Bandcamp and social media in this Techdirt article.
  • Josh Freese – Crowdfunding and Miniature Golf
    The one size fits all product days are gone. Having something for the casual fan to the super fan is a great way to be able to sell more and put additional money in your pocket. One way to utilize this method is through Kickstarter, an online funding platform for artists, musicians, inventors, filmmakers, etc. Josh Freese decided utilized Top Spin (a similar site that becomes available for all artists next month) to help fund an upcoming album. The thing I like about what he did was the creative “product” offerings that fit his personality, including:
  • Lunch with him at Cheesecake Factory or PF Chang’s
  • A round of miniature golf
  • Josh washes your car or does your laundry
  • He joins your band for a month
  • A private drum lesson
  • Take three items out of his closet
  • Josh writes a song about you
    See the full list of packages and items Josh made available, which ranged from $7-$75,000. Check out Kickstarter to see how you can use it creatively to fund your next project. Just remember to do something that fits your band’s personality. If you make it the right fit and support it correctly, it can work.
  • Amanda Palmer – Turning the Power of Twitter into $11,000 in 2 Hours
    Amanda Palmer is widely known for her social media expertise. Advertising Age said, “Palmer is more sophisticated than almost anyone on the internet — musician, brand or otherwise — when it comes to gathering her audience around her and keeping the conversation going.”
    On a boring Friday night, Amanda managed to rake in $11,000 in just two hours. It all started with her tweeting about how she was alone, again, on a Friday night sitting in front of her computer. Others started chiming in and began claiming how “we are all losers.” Dialog continued and grew at a rapid pace. A faux organization was started called, “The Losers of Friday Night on their Computers.” Amanda created the hashtag #LOFNOTC and thousands joined the conversation.
    A follower suggested the group create a t-shirt. Amanda quickly decided to run with it. She took a sharpie and made a t-shirt design. A website was thrown up that night with the t-shirts available for $25 a piece. 2 hours later… $11,000.
    What can you learn for this example?
  • Interact with your followers and don’t just mass broadcast.
  • Be personable and share a variety of things with your fans.
  • Always be on your toes, ready to act quickly when opportunities arise.
  • Matthew Ebel – Subscription Site for the Super Fan

    The packages range from $5/month to $15/month, as well as annual options.  He offers a wide range of perks are including members-only parties, VIP seating at shows, access to new music as soon as he creates it, new live concert recordings every month, broken apart tracks ready for remixing, behind-the-scene sketches, drafts, and ideas, and many more. View the full list of packages and perks here.
  • The Poison Control Center – Tumblr Tour Blog
    A special shout out to Iowa’s own The Poison Control Center for their awesome tour blog. The band uses Tumblr, a simple and free blogging platform, to regularly update their fans from the road. After each show they share pictures, videos, and posts about their experiences, even down to thanking the sound guy, door person, bartender, and of course the fans. They do it right by updating frequently, providing a wide variety of content, and always remaining authentic.
  • Gossip Grows on Trees – Building Your Email List with a Fortune Cookie
    Email is one of the best ways to directly reach your fans, but sometimes it can be difficult to grow your subscription list.  Gossip Grows on Trees from North Carolina executed a creative way to gain more email addresses at live shows.
    They created a download web page that gave visitors a free music download in exchange for their email. At shows they walked around and handed out custom fortune cookies with the URL of the download page and a short message from the band. This gave the band an opportunity to spark conversation and develop relationships with fans. Plus, a lot more people visited the download page and provided their email address because they were approached in a memorable way.

All of these online music marketing case studies have a common theme of musicians connecting with fans. It isn’t enough to put your music out there and hope people will gravitate towards it. You have to be willing to push it out there and utilizing online mediums is a key element.

If you know of a successful online music marketing case study, please share it with us in the comments.

Announcing our SXSW Music 2011 rock star panel lineup

When we found out that our panel idea “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” was accepted into the 2011 SXSW Music programming back in October, we knew we had to assemble a panel of rock stars to share their experiences, thoughts, and advice on the topic. Needless to say, we already had a wish list of industry professionals with success stories that we thought would be a perfect fit.

We’re excited and honored to announce the four confirmed speakers for our upcoming panel, “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” to be held at SXSW Music on Thursday, March 17 at 3:30 PM to 4:30 PM in Room 11AB, Austin Convention Center. And the panelists are…

Sean Moeller, Owner

Scott Booker, Manager
Hellfire Entprises Ltd (The Flaming Lips, Devendra Banhart, El-P) – Academy of Contemporary Music at UCO

Shawn Crahan, Musician
SlipknotDirty Little RabbitsThe Black Dots of Death

Amedeo Rossi, Promoter and Venue Owner
Greater Des Moines Music Coalition80/35Vaudeville Mews

Stay tuned for our very own panelist spotlights leading up to SXSW Music in March. Thanks to Nina and Andy at SXSW for your help in confirming this talented group of panelists. We look forward to seeing everyone 43 days from now in Austin!

We Recognize Her! Hillary Featured on

Our very own Hillary Brown was featured on the SXSW website yesterday in the Music Panelist Spotlight. Read to find out what our “Landing a Music Career in Flyover Country” panel will cover, as well as Hillary’s advice for SXSW newbs, favorite SXSW memories, and top 5 albums.

The panel planning is coming along great! We have some rockstar panelists lined up (literally). We can’t wait to announce!